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Russia slams 'bias' of UN human rights body

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A woman walks past a shell crater in front of a damaged residential building in the town of Siversk, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on June 23, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

Russia has denounced the growing "bias" of the Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), after the UN body harshly criticized the human rights situation in the country.

Speaking before the UN Human Rights Council's in Geneva on Tuesday, Russian representative Ilya Barmin blasted what he termed as "the unprecedented rise in bias and politicization" of the OHCHR, a day after the UN human rights body accused Moscow of trying to silence its opponents.

"This is evidenced by the mention of our country in yesterday's statement by the Acting High Commissioner, who ignored mass human rights violations in Europe, the US and other countries of the collective West," Barmin said.

The Russian diplomat further said the OHCHR "continues to pointedly ignore" evidence concerning the crimes of the Kiev government as well as the atrocities of Ukrainian forces and foreign mercenaries.

Additionally, the "OHCHR turns a blind eye to neo-Nazism in Ukraine and prohibition of activities of opposition parties and movements, arrests and torture of opposition members, human rights defenders and public figures in Ukraine," he said.

Barmin also denounced the UN human rights body for not condemning "many cases" of Ukrainian forces firing on civilian infrastructure and populations in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbass and the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant using Western-supplied weapons.

The office "did not condemn the provision of lethal weapons by the West to Ukraine. This clearly leads to questions regarding the impartiality of the OHCHR," he added.

On Monday, UN deputy human rights chief Nada Al-Nashif denounced the "intimidation, restrictive measures and sanctions against people (in Russia) voicing opposition to the war in Ukraine," warning that Moscow was undermining fundamental freedoms.

Ukraine's Amabassador Yevheniia Filipenko thanked Nashif for a "comprehensive overview" of global human rights and accused Russia of holding "human rights hostage in pursuing its malicious goals."

"Upholding consolidated pressure on the aggressor state should be the only option for all of us," she said.

Back in April, the United Nations General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) over what it called "gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights" by Russian troops in Ukraine.

Russia does, however, retain observer status, hence its right to reply to Monday's criticism.

The voting came in the wake of an investigation into allegations of rights violations, including war crimes, in Ukraine since Russia's attack.

Russia began its military offensive in late February. At the time, President Vladimir Putin said one of the goals of the "special military operation" was to "de-Nazify" Ukraine.

Since the onset of the operation, the United States and its European allies have supplied billions of dollars' worth of weaponry to Ukraine and imposed unprecedented sanctions on Moscow.

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